Department of Technology

Loaded up, shipped out - UNI tiny houses on the move

Posted on Friday, October 6th, 2017
Students work on the first of three tiny houses.
UNI students work on the first of three tiny houses.

If you have ever ventured over to the gravel parking lot on the very far southern edge of campus, there is a good chance you saw them.

But as of Friday, Sept. 22nd, the first three tiny houses built by students of the University of Northern Iowa were loaded onto trailers en route to TinyFest Midwest.  Tinyfest Midwest, an annual event that showcases different styles of tiny house construction, hosts seminars and provides entertainment in a festival-style atmosphere. 

The 2017 version of the event was held during the weekend of Sept. 22-24, 2017, in Colfax, Iowa.

From there, the houses will reside with Joppa, a Des Moines faith-based organization providing outreach, advocacy, housing, and education for the local homeless population.

In order to pay for the materials, the tiny houses are available for individuals to purchase, which would enable the project to donate the funds or a tiny house.

The University of Northern Iowa Mighty House project began with discussions among future Technology and Engineering teachers who were exploring options for new and impactful curriculum projects that would intentionally incorporate science and math concepts, community engagement, and the social impacts of technologies.  Their innovative thinking lead to this interdisciplinary, applied learning project. Additional emphasis has been made to use sustainable and recycled materials when possible.

The goal of the project was to provide a time and economically approachable means to explore the systems found the various construction systems.

In the past two years, UNI students have built three tiny houses with the intention of using them as a potential solution for homelessness and other social needs.  The project has included nine faculty members across four academic departments, and over 200 students in twelve different courses. Students involved in the project represent diverse majors including Electrical Engineering Technology, Interior Design, Art, Technology and Engineering Education, and Construction Management.

Plans for a fourth and fifth tiny house are currently underway with construction set to begin soon on the projects.

For more information on Joppa, visit

Special thanks goes out to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier and Amie Steffen for their coverage on this project.